Scheduled Monument

Risga, shell midden and related structures on SE side of islandSM7829

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: shell midden
Local Authority
NM 61109 59893
161109, 759893


The monument comprises a shell midden of early prehistoric date visible as a grass-covered mound, with associated hearths and possible structural remains.

The monument lies on a raised beach platform at the SE end of the island of Risga. It comprises a shell midden measuring at least 30m by 10m, first excavated in 1920-21 and more recently in 1993. During the 1920-21 excavation, a number of stone, bone and antler implements were recovered.

Artefacts recovered during the more recent excavation include flakes and blades of quartz, flint and bloodstone. A number of features were also uncovered in the midden, including a hearth, several pits, and stone-packed sub-circular foundation trenches which may represent the remains of structures.

Shell middens with associated artefactual assemblages such as this date to the Mesolithic or the very early Neolithic (around 4500-3500 BC). They were created through the gradual deposition of domestic refuse and are composed primarily of shells and bone, giving detailed insight into the diet of Mesolithic communities in Scotland.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material is likely to survive. It is irregular on plan, a maximum of about 57m due E-W by 50m N-S and bounded to the SE by high water mark and to the NW by a low rocky bluff, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our understanding of late Mesolithic settlement and economy. Although there have been two phases of excavation on the site, considerable deposits survive undisturbed.



RCAHMS records the monument as NM 65 NW 22.


Atkinson, Banks and Pollard, J. I. and T. (1993) 'Risga (Ardnamurchan parish): shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 45.

Cole, J. M. (1964) 'New aspects of the mesolithic settlement of South-West Scotland', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, Vol. 41, 82-3.

Cole, J. M. (1971) 'The early settlement of Scotland: excavation at Morton, Fife'. Proc Prehist Soc, Vol. 37, 2, 305.

Lacaille, A. D. (1954) The Stone Age in Scotland, London, 229-39.

Mercer, J. (1974) 'New C14 dates from the Isle of Jura, Argyll', Antiquity, Vol. 48, 65-6.

Sieveking, Longworth and Wilson, G de G, I. H. and K. E. (1976) Problems in economic and social archaeology, 376-7, 381.

Stevenson, R. D. (1978) Risga: The Mesolithic industry, (Unpublished B. Sc dissertation, Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow).

Jardine, W. G. (1971) 'Oronsay, shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 6.

Jardine, W. G. (1973) 'Oronsay, shell middens', Discovery Excav Scot, 9.

Renfrew, C. (ed.) (1974) British prehistory: a new outline London 91-2.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 21/02/2019 17:45